Information out of Europe suggests that the U.S. EPA’s Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program, when finally launched, may not be as successful as the Agency hopes.

A similar program in the United Kingdom, the Voluntary Reporting Scheme for Engineered Nanoscale Materials, administered by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has received lukewarm responses at-best.

A report issued on March 22, 2007 by DEFRA states that it received only six submissions to the Voluntary Reporting Scheme: four by industry and two by academia.  The Scheme started in September 2006, and DEFRA will not give more information about the submissions due to concerns of releasing otherwise confidential information.  The report cites concerns and questions of Respondees, including confusion over who the Scheme applies to, when data should be submitted, which materials are covered, and the format of submissions.  The next report on the Scheme is due in June 2007.

The U.S. EPA’s program is similar, due to its voluntary nature, to the U.K’s Scheme that is getting off to a slow start.  EPA’s program, while announced, is under Office of Management and Budget review, making a launch date uncertain. 

MEH: The Stewardship Program is an important tool for EPA to close the data-gap that currently exists between information an effective regulation.  EPA should heed the warnings coming out of the UK and refine its program as needed to create further incentives and protections to industries and researchers if it wants a significant response to its call for data.